Illegal People Summary/questions

Chapter 7 of illegal people begins with the description of the death of Pete Velasco one of the remaining prominent figures in the Filipino immigration to the United States. The first prominent wave of Filipino immigrants were in the 1920s. Like many other races before them Filipino people were promised the American Dream only to find that America wanted them for their cheap labor. Pete Velasco in particular with his acquaintances felt the burden of discrimination and the search for labor, they were as Bacon suggests the “children of colonialism”. Velasco’s story is described as that of  struggling to find jobs that would provide him with enough to survive especially  during the Great Depression. Bacon then goes on to describe how discrimination was not restricted to Filipinos all Asian descendents felt the lash of racism. The Chinese Exclusion Act did not allow Chinese immigrant to migrate after 1822. Asian Immigrants were held for years in cells without the ability to become citizens even though the U.S first recruited Chinese people to be laborers  to build the Transcontinental Railroad. They were treated almost to a point of comparison with African Americans, like slaves. Filipino people  were not considered aliens because they were a part of a U.S. colony but they were not considered citizens either. Bacon then describes how discrimination and racism  trended with whoever was not white or European. Puerto Rican, Latinos, Indian immigrants all faced and or face discrimination all the obstacles of becoming a legal citizen. Due to this discrimination Filipino workers began to organize to demand better wages.  Mexican and Filipino labor groups joined together to create the United Farm Workers. Filipino labor activists organized unions and fought to make them clean and just. Filipino immigration had a second wave after WWII who settled in the Silicon Valley. In Redwood City a worker named Rodrigo Cruz went into a toxic railroad car to get rid of waste and ended up  having breathing problems because no one told him of the hazards. Thousands of immigrant workers were exposed to toxic fumes. With the help of Cruz bringing up the issue of companies exposing their laborers to toxic wastes but unfortunately the result n company fines led to the firing of tons of immigrant workers. Even though unions have worked hard to fight against the push pull factor of America, U.S. capitalism is drawing them in once again.


KEY Terms:

Manong– respectful term given to Filipino elders then became the term of a generation of the first radical wave of immigrants from the Philippines

Naturalization Act of 1870– limited citizenship to white people or people of African descent

ILWU– International Longshore and Warehouse Union: most powerful political force in the islands

United Farm Workers-the union formation between Filipino and Latino workers to fight for better conditions

IMF– International Monetary Fund: policies made by them are used to encourage foreign investment and land reform elicited the tension between field workers for Dole and Del Monte Corporations led to Agrarian Reform

POEA– Philippines Overseas Employment Agency: has lists of Filipino unions and organizers of labor strikes which are shared among captains making certain immigrants less desirable


-Why do trends of racism target different ethnicities at certain periods of time more than other ethnicities especially when part of the issue is that America lures workers for cheap labor and then reprimands them for doing exactly what we demanded.

-Pete Velasco describes how he survived his immigration with the influence of his community of six close friends. Do you think community helps soften the blow when it comes to migrating somewhere?

-Has there been any other joint ethnicity labor group forces that have caused a huge impact on the gaining of basic rights?

– Social movements have been a mobilizing force behind fighting for rights amongst different groups and races of peoples. Do you think civil disobedience, strikes, and other forms of activism are the best way of creating a voice among immigrants and undocumented peoples?

-What could Rodrigo Cruz of done to help change factory policy instead of taking legal action with the result of getting many people fired?

– Who is the voice among immigrants can it be a single person, a community, or both?


Chapter 8 details how even though our society has progressed and a lot of human rights have been granted to immigrants many if not a  majority of immigrants face discrimination in the workplace. An example is Kim Singh who had all the credentials and qualifications of finding a good engineering job still had his wages reduced even on a work visa. The same thing happened to other qualified immigrants in the country legally. H1-B visas are very common and in demand amongst educated credited immigrants in search for work because it offers the ability for immigrants to work for three years as mathematicians or engineers and the  apply for permanent residency. The process to obtain an H1-B visa is a long tedious process that could take many years to obtain. Most companies that allow for this specific visa lose interest after a green card is obtained leaving many immigrants vulnerable. Many argue that companies use these visas as a way to keep immigrants dependent. Bill Gates championed the H1-B visas when Congress was contemplating immigration reform even though he skirts taxes and benefits from cheap labor. France and Germany saw a social cost to guest worker programs as well. France had 10 year visas that did not offer legal residency but allowed visitors to overstay and have their children in France. Children of immigrants felt the burn of racism and discrimination visibly seeing the economic gap and divide where they were repeatedly reminded they could not live up to France’s wealth and elegance. In the 1960s waves of immigrant guests and even though Germany has anti discrimination laws it does not protect or guarantee equality amongst immigrants. Large German corporations use an entrapment systems that keeps immigrants at the bottom of the workforce. German unions were locked out of cities also when there was reconstruction in the cities. Immigration as shown in these examples is globally disputed. Immigration reforms especially in America don’t really solve the migration of undocumented people since we are reliant on immigrants to perform manual labor tasks at the lowest costs. Asylum is considered to be one of the most influential ways to migrate with limited discrimination and guaranteed security but is hard to grant because there must be proof that one is escaping torture and persecution. The issue lies within the idea that granting asylum and legally recognizing citizens is not good for the economy. Another problem is that displacement is often self-initiated by countries who capitalize and fund other corporations.  It is agreed upon that nothing will stop floods of migrants to new countries because nothing will but the solution lies in immigration reform. Bacon argues that the most viable solutions will likely come from immigrants themselves.


  • Have many HB-1 visas are given out in California per year?
  • What is the cost for children of undocumented immigrants to be citizens and still be among the lowest social class
  • As we can see immigration is not solely concentrated in America why did people flee to France and Germany?
  • What is the process for applying for asylum and what rights does it guarantee for an immigrant?
  • What solutions would you pose to change and modify immigration reform in the United States?
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